As the economy has started picking up, so has the congestion on our streets, a new study from Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University has found. According to the study, our traffic levels are starting to resemble pre-recession levels nationally, forcing people to spend more money on gasoline, which is wasted while cars idle in traffic.
The 2010 Urban Mobility Report, found that the economic downturn and high gas prices led to fewer people driving, but we’re starting to see a strong resurgence. According to the report, “In 2009, congestion caused urban Americans to travel 4.8 billion hours more and to purchase an extra 3.9 billion gallons of fuel for a congestion cost of $115 billion.” Which means an average American spent an additional 34 hours in traffic in 2009 and paid about $808 for it.
Drivers in Chicago and Washington, D.C., the most affected cities, had it even worse. Commuters there spent an average of 70 hours stuck in traffic. To put that into perspective, commuters in Chicago lost $1,738, in delays while D.C. drivers wasted 57 gallons of gas.
The Texas Transportation Institute looked at traffic congestion in 439 urban areas across the United States. Here are the other top cities with bad traffic problems:
1st – Chicago and Washington, D.C. – 70 hours
3rd – Los Angeles/Long Beach– 63 hours
4th – Houston – 58 hours
5th – San Francisco-Oakland (Bay Area)– 49 hours
6th – Dallas-Fort Worth and Boston – 48 hours
8th – Atlanta and Seattle – 44 hours
10th – New York- Newark area – 42 hours
While the fact that our economy rebounding is great news, the report is a great indicator about the state of our infrastructure right now. It’s become clear that we need more public transit, tolls, and other traffic-changing patterns and systems to keep our cars moving.
But there is one silver lining: the study found that public transportation may have eased some of the pain: our nation’s existing bus and rail network saved us another 785 million hours of wasted time spent in traffic. Now can you imagine what a difference it would have been if our public transportation programs were expanded only slightly?
WHY THIS MATTERS:
The shocking amount of fuel wasted by idling traffic is a clear call for better, more efficient transportation infrastructure and systems — including public transportation.
Via St. Louis Today